“Trader Joe’s” 13th NYC Supermarket is Latest in Harlem Renaissance

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A rendering of the new Harlem Trader Joe’s- Beyer Blinder Belle Architectural firm

By: Rusty Brooks

Trader Joe’s will open a new location in Harlem, it’s 13th in New York City, in 2023, reports the New York Post. The 28,000-square-foot location will be at 121 W 125th St., where a new Target store is also being opened.

The Trader Joe’s lease appears to have been done swiftly. A poll in 2019 conducted by thecuriousuptowner.com found that 91 percent of Harlem residents wanted a Trader Joe’s, NY Post reported.

There have been small pockets of anti-gentrification activists objecting to the development of Harlem, especially on historic 125th Street, however the area has seen a massive Whole Foods and Burlington Coat Factory which opened three years ago at the corner of Malcolm X Boulevard. also known as Lenox Avenue.

The Post explained, The Urban League mini tower between Malcolm X and Adam Clayton Powell Jr. boulevards is one of many impressive Harlem projects that braved the pandemic to begin work. They include Extell’s planned office tower at 180 E. 125th St., a nearly finished Marriott Hotel near the Apollo Theater, and a new Studio Museum in Harlem now under construction.

Joe Coulombe, the founder of Trade Joes died last February.

The chain began in 1958 as a Greater Los Angeles area chain of Pronto Market convenience stores. The original Pronto Markets were so similar to 7-Eleven that Joe Coulombe felt the competition with 7-Eleven would be disastrous, the L.A Times chronicled

Coulombe is said to have developed the idea of the Trader Joe’s South Seas motif while on vacation in the Caribbean. He had noticed that Americans were traveling more and returning home with tastes for food and wine they had trouble satisfying in supermarkets of the time.

The first store branded as “Trader Joe’s” opened in 1967. This store, on Arroyo Parkway in Pasadena, California, remains in operation to this day. In the first few decades since opening, some of the stores offered fresh meats provided by butchers who leased space in the stores. Trader Joe’s at one time had sandwich shops, freshly cut cheese, and freshly squeezed orange juice all in-store.

BusinessWeek reported that Trader Joe’s quintupled the number of its stores between 1990 and 2001 and multiplied its profits by ten. Supermarket News estimated Trader Joe’s sales for 2015 at $13 billion and placed Trader Joe’s 21st on the list of “SN’s Top 75 Retailers for 2016.

Trader Joe’s founder Joe Coulombe, who envisioned his stores as “for overeducated and underpaid people, for all the classical musicians, museum curators, journalists”.